CW: sexual abuse and rape
Yet another case in China’s #MeToo movement will be going to trial, however, this time it will be taking place inside the US.
Back in 2018, billionaire founder of Jingdong (京東 and sometimes called Joybuy in English), an ecommerce website often compared with Amazon, Richard Liu (劉強東) was arrested in Minneapolis on suspicion of rape. Liu is married, to another billionaire 20 years his junior, Zhang Zetian (章澤天). On the night of the alleged attack, the victim messaged a friend telling them that she was raped and hoped to escape the next day. She also speculated that Liu would “suppress it,” referring to the incident.
This is not the first time that Liu has been in the proximity of such charges. Back in 2015, Liu was hosting a party at his Sydney penthouse where one of his guests was likewise accused of raping a young model. The guest, Tommy Xu, was subsequentially sentenced to 4 years in prisons for the vile crime.
While, of course, it is true that Liu was not the perpetrator of the assault, he did facilitate the meeting. It has also been reported that the young woman was pressured into attending the party and that the men at the party “forced” her to drink copious amounts of alcohol.
These circumstances certainly do not, in and of themselves, prove that Liu committed the alleged crimes, however, it does present a potential example of a patten, which we have seen around the world, of rich and powerful men feeling entitled to women’s bodies. In China there has the problem seems even more dire, mostly due to the fact that many of the high profile cases involve members of the CCP, and thus are unlikely to ever even see trial, see Peng Shuai and many others calling for gender equality in China.
Thankfully this instance might be different being it took place on American soil. Of course it should be noted that the American “justice system” is far from perfect and often fails to protect the victims of sexual violence or even pursue cases, see the hundreds of thousands of untested rape kits. However, while it needs to be heavily reformed, it is still miles ahead of its Chinese counterpart.
That being sai, the inadequacies of the American legal system have also on full display in this case. Back in 2018, when the alleged crime took place, local authorities refused to prosecute the case citing doubts that the case could be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The victim, though, showed incredible bravery in refusing to be deterred and has opted to pursue the case in civil court.
The accusation against Liu is quite similar to that of Xu, essentially that he hosted a party with ample alcohol and after one of his female guest was sufficiently inebriated, he raped her.
If the victim is able to prove her case, it could provide a serious boost of morale to the #MeToo movement in China, which has seen so many credible cases ignored. It could also give more credibility to the large cohort of women in China that seek to expose the misogyny so oft experienced by women there.
The victim alleged that she was invited to a dinner attended by Liu and told to sit next to him. She also claims that she was pressured to drink excessive amounts of alcohol. She left with the billionaire and claims essentially he allegedly began assaulting her in the car.
After this she claims she was taken back to her apartment and alleges that Liu forcefully entered her apartment. After that he assaulted her. He of course disputes this charge. Many have also rallied behind the victim.
The police showed up the morning of the alleged assault, it is unclear who actually contacted the them. The victim initially failed to press charges, according her her later statements, it seems this was to protect her family. She also went to get a rape test done at a local hospital. Liu was busy flying back to China.
Recently it has been alleged that Chinese media platforms have also been censoring the issue, yet again, far from surprising. Chinese censors are always hard at work and will even attempt to redact much more benign issues such as symbols in movies.
The current situation is obviously much more serious and will hopefully be dealt with as such by the court. Justice is what the judicial system should strive for and hopefully it will get to the bottom of things and deliver it.
Women around the world deserve to have their claims taken seriously, for too long they haven’t been. This is especially dire in authoritarian countries like China, so perhaps thankfully this will be an opportunity to hold a powerful person accountable. Hopefully true, pure justice will prevail.